Reid defends embattled VA secretary
© Greg Nash/The Hill

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSanders courts GOP voters with 'Medicare for All' plan Glamorization of the filibuster must end Schumer won't rule out killing filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) is defending Robert McDonald as the Veterans Affairs secretary faces a growing backlash for comparing wait times at VA clinics to lines at a Disney theme park. 

"He is a good man. He's doing his best under very, very difficult circumstances. So, I support Secretary McDonald all the way," Reid told reporters Tuesday when asked whether McDonald should resign.

ADVERTISEMENT

The top VA official told reporters Monday that wait times aren't the most important measure of how well the department is providing medical services for veterans.

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" he asked. "What's important is what's your satisfaction with the experience."

The remark sparked a fierce reaction from Republicans, who say McDonald's comment is offensive and want him to apologize.

Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Graham says he's 'not interested' in Mueller testifying Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech MORE (R-Mo.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom Line Bottom Line Top 5 races to watch in 2019 MORE (R-La.) have called on him to resign.

"This insulting Disneyland analogy sums up what many thought of him. Leadership starts at the top, and the VA needs a leader who will prioritize implementing necessary reforms to better serve our veterans," Vitter said in a statement.

Despite the mounting criticism, McDonald on Tuesday refused to apologize for the comparison.

Though House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty MORE (R-Wis.) used a press conference Tuesday to slam the top VA official, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Overnight Health Care: McConnell offering bill to raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | NC gov vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill | CMS backs off controversial abortion proposal HR 1 brings successful local, state reforms to the federal level and deserves passage MORE (R-Ky.) separately sidestepped the controversy. 

Reid, who called himself an "expert" at saying the wrong thing, added Tuesday that McDonald "could have done a better job talking about Disneyland."